It took me a fair amount of time to decide on what 50 films from 2000 to 2009 most excited, intrigued, or impressed me. Some have simply stuck to my memory regardless of overall quality. This is not my list of "Best Pictures" of the last decade. These are instead films that I treasure for many different reasons and that I wouldn't mind watching over and over. This list, my first of its nature, is very important for me, since the cinephile in me was awakened only in 2001, twenty years after my birth and having been at best a casual moviegoer.
Here are #s 50-41:
50. Infernal Affairs (2002)
Directors: Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Writers: Alan Mak, Felix Chong
Cast: Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang, Sammi Cheng
The movie that directly inspired Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning The Departed. A masterful film, perhaps Hong Kong's finest in the last decade.
49. Dancer in the Dark (2000)
Director: Lars von Trier
Writer: Lars von Trier
Cast: Bjork, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare
What a performance from Bjork! Raw, innocent, powerful. The film itself scars and wounds, especially in the last few sequences, and it leaves an indelible mark.
48. Bayaning Third World (2000)
Director: Mike de Leon
Writers: Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr., Mike de Leon
Cast: Joel Torre, Ricky Davao, Cris Villanueva
Of the many Filipino films about national hero Jose Rizal, this is easily the most imaginative. Surreal, bizarre, sometimes bordering on absurd, but never anything less than genius. Mike de Leon, a major player in Philippine cinema's second Golden Age (the 1970s), proves he still has it.
47. Ang Pagdadalaga ni Maximo Oliveros (2005)
Director: Auraeus Solito
Writer: Michiko Yamamoto
Cast: Nathan Lopez, Soliman Cruz, JR Valentin, Neil Ryan Sese, Ping Medina
The Filipino indie scene is now dominated by gay films, but before that deluge of mostly derivative, exploitative drivel, this true gem of the digital movement impressed viewers here and abroad, even getting a Spirit Award nomination for Foreign Language Film. A very refreshing take on the homosexual Filipino adolescent, in that his very macho father and older brothers love him dearly and dote on him.
46. WALL-E (2008)
Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, Jim Reardon
Brilliant piece of animation and science fiction. Having a silent robot with emotions as the lead character goes a long way.
45. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)
Director: Alfonso Cuaron
Writer: Steve Kloves, based on the novel by J.K. Rowling
Cast: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson
This is easily the best in the series. Cuaron's little touches elevate this to a very good fantasy piece. And the three actors are at their best here.
44. Sideways (2004)
Director: Alexander Payne
Writers: Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor, based on the novel by Rex Pickett
Cast: Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen, Sandra Oh
This film is so smooth and effortless in the way it captures the audience's emotion that it latches on and doesn't let go. I cannot forget the amazement I felt at Paul Giamatti's brilliance...and my vexation at his not having been nominated for an Oscar.
43. Enchanted (2007)
Director: Kevin Lima
Writer: Bill Kelly
Cast: Amy Adams, Patrick Dempsey, James Marden, Timothy Spall, Idina Menzel, Susan Sarandon
Amy Adams is aces as a Disney princess transported to modern-day New York in this very memorable and highly entertaining film. The songs are contagious, and James Marden plays a hilarious Prince.
42. Doubt (2008)
Director: John Patrick Shanley
Writer: John Patrick Shanley, based on his play
Cast: Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Viola Davis
Just writing that cast list has me thinking back to this powerful film. It's a good story and a well-crafted movie, but it's the cast that got me. All four, including the immortal Meryl Streep, at their finest. What more can you ask for?
41. In Bruges (2008)
Director: Martin McDonagh
Writer: Martin McDonagh
Cast: Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, Ralph Fiennes
This film had me simultaneously in stitches, frightened of Ralph Fiennes, falling in love with Bruges which I had not heard of prior to watching this, and thinking how fantastic an actor Colin Farrell is. He should have been nominated for an Oscar.
Numbers 40-39 soon.